Russian meddling in US election beyond dispute, says Trump adviser
H R McMaster said the evidence against 13 Russians was ‘incontrovertible’.
The evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 American election is beyond dispute, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has told an international conference.
H R McMaster was answering a question from a Russian delegate, shortly after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov left the same stage at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
Referring to the indictment of 13 Russians announced on Friday, Mr McMaster said “with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now incontrovertible” of Russia cyber-meddling.
He also scoffed at any move to work with Russia on cybersecurity, saying “we would love to have a cyber dialogue when Russia is sincere about curtailing its sophisticated form of espionage”.
Just moments earlier, Mr Labrov had dismissed the indictments as “just blabber”.
The federal indictment brought by special counsel Robert Mueller represents the most detailed allegations to date of illegal Russian meddling during the campaign that sent Mr Trump to the White House.
Asked about the indictment Mr Lavrov replied: “I have no response. You can publish anything, and we see those indictments multiplying, the statements multiplying.”
Grand Jury Indicts Thirteen Russian Individuals and Three Russian Companies for Scheme to Interfere in the United States Political System https://t.co/P0BA7UY8lC— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) February 16, 2018
He argued that US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, have said no country influenced the US election results.
“Until we see the facts, everything else is just blabber — I’m sorry for this expression,” Mr Lavrov said.
The 13 are charged with running a huge but hidden social media trolling campaign aimed in part at helping Republican Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The indictment marks the first criminal charges against Russians believed to have secretly worked to influence the outcome.
According to the indictment, the Russian organisation was funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
He is a wealthy St Petersburg businessman with ties to the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Lavrov denounced “this irrational myth about this global Russian threat, traces of which are found everywhere — from Brexit to the Catalan referendum”.
In Russia, one of those indicted said that the US justice system is unfair.
Mikhail Burchik was quoted by the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda as saying: “I am very surprised that, in the opinion of the Washington court, several Russian people interfered in the elections in the United States. I do not know how the Americans came to this decision.”
Mr Burchik was identified in the indictment as executive director of an organisation that allegedly sowed propaganda on social media to try to interfere with the 2016 election.
Mr Burchik was quoted as saying on Saturday that “they have one-sided justice, and it turns out that you can hang the blame on anyone”.